At its annual meeting in June in Maui, BEMA is launching a new formalized program aimed at facilitating connections between bakers and suppliers. Dubbed BEMA Connect, the program arranges up to three one-on-one sessions between a baker and supplier, each lasting 15 minutes.

An on-line sign-up for the event asks BEMA members to provide information about their most recent innovations as well as an overview of the products and/or services they offer. Participating bakers are asked about their pending needs, and BEMA acts as a matchmaker, based on the information submitted.

The idea for BEMA Connect was conceived by the group’s executive committee.

 “BEMA Connect is a new, exciting way for suppliers and bakers to discuss opportunities in a fun, fast-paced environment,” said Kurt Miller, BEMA chairman.  “Suppliers benefit because they can quickly get down to business with customers on new ideas or technology they have to present. Bakers benefit by being able to quickly meet suppliers for upcoming projects. This is a new offering for introducing new technology and will serve to move the entire industry forward.”

The annual meeting also will feature more traditional ways for BEMA to bring together bakers and suppliers, including baker/producer question and answer sessions and industry updates. The 2015 meeting will feature a non-traditional products panel and a panel of bakers from the Asia-Pacific region. The non traditional products panel will include Rich Berger, vice-president of engineering, food supply for Clif Bar; Mike Hopp, vice-president, manufacturing and engineering, Newly Weds Foods, and Dan Raatjes, vice-president of operations, Kings Hawaiian.

The Asia-Pacific Panel will include Desmond Teh, general manager, manufacturing, engineering and projects, Gardenia Bakeries Philippines; Dan Bailey, senior vice-president, McDonald’s Business Unit, Aryzta; and Laurence Halvy, managing director, Asia, Aryzta.

The BEMA 2015 annual meeting will be held June 23-26 at the Hyatt Regency resort on Maui.